It experienced that the cost of doing business in Papua New Guinea are exorbitant and is killing private sector development, especially for the small to medium enterprise sector, and Papua New Guinea as a nation needs to address these inhibiting factors.
The experience was that of the National Research Institute of PNG (NRI), and was relayed by director Dr Charles Yala last Friday while officiating at the opening of the ‘Thomas Webster Research Building’.
Among the notable guests at this occasion were Dr Webster-whom the new-look building is named after, in recognition for his outstanding contribution which spans more than a decade-his wife Florence, former chairman-Sir Henry Chow’s son-Fabian, Sir Kostas Constantinou and members of the diplomatic corps.
Dr Yala said the facelift had been undertaken at a cost of K1.2 million, starting what would be a long journey of its plans to refurbish and modernise its existing infrastructure and development of new ones to achieve NRI’s Knowledge Hub vision.
He said given the high costs in PNG, project management was undertaken internally by its senior deputy director Dr David Ayres.
He said of the supplies that were required, only 40 per cent were procured locally while the balance imported and these included glass, windows, insulation, and plaster boards imported from China while the stones, electric and plumbing, kitchen tiles, carpets, toilet bowls, office furniture and light bulbs from Australia.
"The decision on whether to procure materials locally or to import was dictated by cost, quality and supply availability. The mark-ups on locally supplied materials had ranged between 100-150 per cent. This is even taking into account shipping and related costs, including customs clearance.
"Refurbishments under difficult economic times had enabled NRI to experience firsthand the frustrations faced by the private sector on a daily basis. One that stands out is in relation to the foreign exchange controls which were introduced by the Bank of PNG last year, when the PNG Kina came under pressure.
"We managed the ordering of the building materials under these conditions and we share the frustrations and sentiments of the private sector," the director said.
Despite the setbacks, Dr Yala said there were positives and these included the fact that the institute had completed the project on time and on schedule in six months, had engaged local contractors, provided jobs for 40 locals and in addition to this, contributed to skills transfer. Post Courier/PNGfacts